Humans are an adventurous species. We have always been compelled to venture into the unknown and discover what the world has in store for us. This basic instinct is the driving force behind our progress and we are now at the verge of becoming an interplanetary species. However, there is a whole lot of “unknown” to be explored right here on our planet and it is as alien as it gets. I am, of course, talking about our oceans. They cover nearly 70 percent of the Earth and it is estimated that we have only explored about 5 percent of them. I am not trying to undermine space exploration. In fact, we owe a lot of our technology (even the one we are using to explore the oceans) to space exploration. I know most of us wanted to be astronauts when they grow up, but let’s be realistic, becoming an astronaut is not as simple as putting on your scuba gear and diving into the ocean. And if you ask me, our oceans are the next best thing.
Scuba diving may seem way too complicated for most people and it actually is. There is a lot of information you need to digest gear wise and you need to go through a fair amount dedicated training. But, despite all that, every scuba diver starts with the most basic scuba gear: a mask, a set of fins and a snorkel. These items are critical for getting the feel of scuba diving and being comfortable and confident underwater before you can move on to a full diving equipment. This is why it is important to choose quality gear and not some Chinese knockoff from a beach toy store. So, lets go over them one by one.
There is a large number of scuba masks available to the diving community. They vary in style, colours, shapes, design and materials. These variations affect both the price and the performance of the mask. I wouldn’t worry too much abut the colour or the style of the mask, since the most important feature is how good it fits. Struggling with a leaking mask all the time can completely ruin your diving experience. So, make sure to try a number of different variations and see which one fits your face the best. Make sure there are no uncomfortable points where the mask is in contact with your face. And an easy trick to check for leaks is to pull the straps out of the way, place the mask on your face and slightly inhale through your nose to see if it stays on your face without any support. The lenses of the mask are another important feature, since vision should be clear and unobstructed. Some divers prefer a single lens while others prefer dual lenses. The main advantage of dual lenses is that they can be upgraded to prescription lenses if needed.
Choosing the right fins can be as complicated as choosing a mask. Again, there are a ton of different models to choose from. There are open-heeled and full foot fins; there are long free diving fins for maximum thrust and there are shorter recreational fins; there are fins made from different materials with different buoyancy; and so on. All in all, the best way to choose the right fins is to explain your needs to the retailer and ask for guidance and advice.
And finally, you need to choose a snorkel. Snorkels are actually an old tool that has been used for centuries. The most basic model is a tube snorkel – you breathe from one end and the other end is open to the air. There are semi-dry snorkels that feature a cover which deflects water, however, it will still flood if the diver decides to submerge. Then, there is the dry snorkel that has a valve which closes up when the diver submerges. One of the latest and most popular models is the roll up snorkel that can be easily stored in your pocket.
Over all, when choosing your scuba gear, looking cool is the least important factor. Functionality should always be your primary concern to ensure that you have the best diving experience and get the most value for your purchase.